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The day after the attacks, Iran’s Quds force chief Qassem Soleimani gloated: “The Red Sea is not secure with the presence of American troops in the area,”
Although the damage to the Arsen was indeed minimal as the Saudis claimed, they decided not to take any chances and immediately announced the suspension of oil shipping through the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandeb until conditions were secure. Oil prices shot up by one percent on the world markets. An estimated 4.8 million barrels of oil are shipped daily through the Straits of Bab al Mandeb, which is only 20km wide. Any move to block this Red Sea strait would virtually halt oil shipments from the Gulf through Egypt’s Suez Canal to the Mediterranean that are destined for Europe and the Far East.
Since October 2016, there have been eight Iranian-instigated attacks on US, Saudi and UAE warships and tankers sailing through the Red Sea. They were conducted by Houthis, who were trained in weapons and assault tactics by Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hizballah instructors. They taught the Yemeni insurgents how to use anti-ship missiles, fast explosive boats, speedboats equipped with RPG launchers, drones and sea mines. The Houthi missile strike on a pair of Saudi tankers differed from the preceding attacks in that for the first time, Iranians were directly involved.
The US only reacted once before to this aggression: A Houthi missile base on the Red Sea shore was smashed on the orders of President Barack Obama after striking the USS Mason warship on Oct. 9, 2016.
On Friday, July 27, sources in Washington reported that the Trump administration was weighing possible military action, including expanded intervention in the Yemen war, to keep the Red Sea oil shipping route open against Iranian threats to the waterway. Administration officials denied these reports saying that any military action would be taken by US regional allies such as Saudi Arabia, and not American troops. The Iranian naval spy ship Saviz has therefore got away with threatening a key international oil route, while Tehran has proved willing to perpetrate an unimaginable environmental calamity.